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Arsenal head into their Premier League meeting with Manchester United on Sunday as favourites, according to pundit Chris Sutton.
Writing in his BBC Sport column, the former Blackburn and Chelsea striker said the Gunners “have to be favourites” for the highly-anticipated game at the Emirates. Mikel Arteta’s side are currently top of the standings with 47 points, eight ahead of Erik ten Hag’s men in third.
Arsenal ‘have to be the favourites’
Arsenal go into the match on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions, winning five of those. Man Utd meanwhile had won nine games in a row before drawing with Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
The Red Devils won the reverse fixture 3-1 in September, with Marcus Rashford netting twice at Old Trafford. Antony also scored as Bukayo Saka found the net for the visitors.
While Sutton believes Man Utd are capable of coming out on top once again on Sunday, he believes the home side are the favourites to win.
“United were quite fortunate when they beat Arsenal at Old Trafford in September,” said Sutton. “I think Erik ten Hag’s team are good enough to win this game too, just by playing on the counter-attack at Emirates Stadium.
“But Arsenal are full of confidence, and their goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is playing extremely well too – they have to be the favourites.”
Casemiro a huge miss for the visitors
As mentioned, Ramsdale has been in fine form for Arsenal this season, with only Newcastle’s Nick Pope making more Premier League clean sheets than him this season.
Sutton also pointed to the importance of the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen for the visitors. But one major factor in the game will be the absence of Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who is set to miss out through suspension. He picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign in the match against Palace.
“I always have a sneaky feeling for Manchester United in games like this, with Marcus Rashford so good on the counter-attack and Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen having the eye for the pass that would put him through,” said Sutton.
“On the flip side, I just wonder how much Wednesday’s draw against Palace will have taken out of Erik ten Hag’s side, who will be missing the suspended Casemiro in midfield too.”
Arsenal ‘believe they can beat anyone’
Sutton continued by suggesting that Arsenal are so high in confidence that they believe they can beat anyone. The Gunners have won 15 of their 18 league matches this season, drawing twice and losing just once.
They have netted 42 goals, second only to Manchester City, while only Newcastle have conceded fewer goals than Arteta’s side.
“As I said on the Monday Night Club on Radio 5 Live, United’s biggest issue at present is managing expectation, because after winning nine games in a row some of their fans started to think they are title contenders again,” added Sutton.
“Yes, they have found some consistency with their performance levels but it is Arsenal who have set the standard this season, with 15 wins and only one defeat in their first 18 league games.
“This will be a great game to watch because of United’s threat on the break, but Arsenal are at home and they are playing like they believe they can beat anyone at the moment.”